Electric scooter company Lime tackles safety concerns with helmet giveaway

Chris Skelton/STUFFE-scooter company Lime launched in New Zealand with 600 e-scooters scattered across Auckland and hundreds more in Christchurch.

E-scooter firm Lime hosted a safe scooting summit for riders at Eden Park on Saturday, where organisers gave away 200 helmets to riders. 

New Zealand Transport Agency does not require users to wear helmets but safety concerns were raised following a raft of e-scooter related ACC claims.

In October, the company launched 600 scooters in Auckland and 400 in Christchurch. Since then, they have been ridden more than 500,000 times in New Zealand. 

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On Saturday, Lime launcher Hank Rowe said the safety summit had always been part of the company’s plans. 

Lime rider Jess Suo and Eden Park ambassador Keven Mealamu both thought it was important for riders to wear helmets.
MANDY TE/STUFFLime rider Jess Suo and Eden Park ambassador Keven Mealamu both thought it was important for riders to wear helmets.

“Safety remains our number one priority and we will continue to educate our riders on best riding practices,” Rowe said. 

The summit provided a community environment for Lime to give out helmets and address safety concerns, he said. 

There were more summits planned for the future where riders could get helmets and potential plans in the pipeline for helmet pick-up points, he said. 

E-scooters have come under fire since they were introduced due to worries about people injuring themselves, people misusing them and children riding them.

People who were underage or riding the e-scooters with two people on at a time were outside of Lime’s terms and conditions, Rowe said. 

“We look to people to be responsible. It’s down to the users themselves.” 

Lime's first e-scooter summit took place on Saturday at Auckland's Eden Park.
MANDY TE/STUFFLime’s first e-scooter summit took place on Saturday at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Jess Suo rode a Lime scooter to the summit with a friend. 

“I love to Lime,” Suo said, adding that the summit was a nice way to address safety concerns. 

She believed the safety problems were similar to concerns people had with OnzO, and even driving a car. 

Jess Suo rode a Lime e-scooter to get to the safe scooting summit for riders.
MANDY TE/STUFFJess Suo rode a Lime e-scooter to get to the safe scooting summit for riders.

“With Lime, the concerns were almost immediate because it blew up so fast.”

The safety guidelines were made clear on the app and it was people’s choice whether they followed them or not, she said. 

“You don’t see people stop driving cars,” Suo said. 

Eden Park ambassador and Lime user Keven Mealamu said the event was “pretty cool”.

Mealamu thought it was important people wore helmets when riding e-scooter, adding: “It’s the little things that make a big difference.” 

Eden Park chief executive officer Nick Sautner said the venue was excited to be part of the summit – the first event of its kind in New Zealand. 

“We’re pleased to be able to offer Aucklanders an opportunity to learn the ABCs of safe scooter practice ahead of the summer break,” Sautner said. 

Auckland Council’s ‘Scoot Safe’ campaign

In November, Auckland Council launched a $10,000 campaign called Scoot Safe, after mayor Phil Goff’s call for an urgent report to look at e-scooter safety concerns after a councillor was almost hit.

When asked if the campaign had come too late, Goff said the council had not “anticipated they [e-scooters] would take off so quickly”.

In November, Goff made a submission to Transport minister Phil Twyford, where he outlined other changes for the safety of riding e-scooters, including reducing the speed limit to 10kmh on footpaths, the use of helmets and police using enforcement for reckless behaviour.

Where can they be ridden and are safety accessories necessary?

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says e-scooters can be used on the footpath or the road.

They can be used on cycle paths, which are physically separated by a barrier or are off the road altogether, but they cannot be used in designated cycle lanes

While Lime launcher Hank Rowe strongly encouraged riders to wear helmets, it is not required by NZTA.

“The NZTA states we don’t require helmets to ride these scooters, however if it’s raining or if you do intend on riding on the road for a long period we do recommend wearing a helmet,” Rowe said. 

“However for short trips around the city and on footpaths, the safety level is absolutely on par with walking.”